Monthly Archives: January 2010

Uber Cool Cat Furniture You Can Make

I might be a little late to the party, but I came across this awesome DIY cat scratcher on the Design*Sponge blog.  I love how it doesn’t look like a home made scratcher.  Instead, it looks like something out of a modern furniture design catalogue.

Besides the good looks, it’s also green.  Like a lot of the other eco-friendlier cat scratchers, Design*Sponge used recycled corrugated cardboard to make theirs.  Not only can your cat scratch, he or she can also sit on it.  It’s like a designer Kitty chair.  Detailed instructions for making your own cat scratcher, kitty pad, are posted on the Design*Sponge blog.  Check it out:

http://www.designspongeonline.com/2009/01/diy-project-recycled-cardboard-kitty-pad.html

CitiKitty’s in the House – Time to Toilet Train My Cat

CitiKittyFurball’s days of using eco-friendly cat litter may be numbered. Recently, Ewa, one of my blog readers, wrote in to recommend toilet training your cat as an alternative to using kitty litter. It made a lot of sense to me when I calculated that Furball was going through at least 200 lbs of litter a year. I also knew he was toxoplasmosis-free, so I wasn’t concerned about flushing his waste.

Ewa wrote that she was using the Litter Kwitter cat toilet training system and thought this was the best system as it seemed more durable and allowed you to go back a step in the training process. Without it being said, she was probably comparing Litter Kwitter to CitiKitty.

After I read her email, I looked at reviews on Amazon for Litter Kwitter and CitiKitty. There seemed to be a number of reviews that concurred with Ewa.   I thought about buying the Litter Kwitter, but balked at the hefty price tag. Also, when I read feedback on toilet training your cat, it seemed like the bathroom would be one giant mess of litter, feces and urine until the cat was trained, which could take months. With the demands of a new baby in the house, I hesitated.

After I posted Ewa’s tips on toilet training your cat, I got an email from CitiKitty. They offered to send me one of their cat toilet training kits for evaluation. They also told me some interesting facts about their product. It’s green!

They use recycled plastic and 100% recycled (50% post-consumer-waste) paper for the instructional materials that come with the kit. The product and its packaging is made in the U.S. unlike Litter Kwitter, which Amazon reviewers said was made in China. Litter Kwitter also comes with an instructional DVD, which seems a little unnecessary.

As with anything “green”, you need to weigh the pros and cons of the resources used to make the cat toilet training kit vs. the resources and waste from cat litter.

One of the major complaints about CitiKitty in the Amazon reviews was that once you punched out a ring, you couldn’t go back if your cat got freaked out by the bigger hole. Well, I just received the CitiKitty cat toilet training kit today, and I noticed there’s an extra ring set included that does allow you to backtrack.

My mother-in-law is going to be visiting for six weeks to see her grandchild and give us a helping hand. I figure this would be the only and best time to attempt to toilet train my cat, Furball.  Grandma will able to look after the baby in case I need to do a major bathroom clean every day. As well, the baby isn’t crawling yet, so he won’t be exposed to any stray cat litter.

I’ll keep you all posted at how successful the process of toilet training my cat is. The one thing I gathered from the reviews is that you need to go slooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooowly.

Winner of the Safe Picnic Green Pest Control Giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who participated in our giveaway.  And thanks to EcoSMART for providing the prize, a Safe Picnic Value Bundle which consists of the following products:

  • Home Pest Control (24 oz spray bottle)
  • Flying Insect Killer (14 oz can)
  • Insect Repellent (Two 6 oz bottles)

The winner of our giveaway is a Cat Daddy living in North Carolina.

Stay tuned for another giveaway this month where we’ll be giving away sample packs of Prowl dehydrated natural raw cat food, courtesy The Honest Kitchen.

Tips on Toilet Training Your Cat

Cat toilet training and toilet training your catOne of our readers wrote in to recommend toilet training your cat as an alternative to using kitty litter.  While switching to eco-friendly cat litter is much more positive for the environment than clay-based litters (See related posts at bottom of this article for more details), it may not be the greenest option.  I just read on the Internet that the average cat goes through something like 440 lbs of litter a year.

I thought to myself that the number was a bit high until I looked at the cat litter bag in the bathroom and saw that it was indeed a 40 lb bag.  We probably go through a bag every other month and I really stretch out its use. I’ll blog about how to do this in the future.  Regardless, that would still add up to 240 lbs of litter going into the garbage each year. If you factor in that there are over 80 million household cats in the United States, even if only half of them were using 250 lbs a year, that would be 20 billion pounds of litter a year.  I had to check the calculator twice to make sure I had the right number because it was so high!  I had made an estimate before that had astounded me, but it was only 3 billion.  Now, I’m looking at a number 7x higher.

That made me give more serious thought to idea of toilet training my cat.  Admittedly, it does seem strange at first, but the more you think about it, the more sense it makes.

Fortunately, Green Little Cat has some very intelligent readers who are passionate about the environment.  Ewa wrote in to tell me that she has started the toilet training process with her cat, Netto.  It does take patience and a few months to make the transition.  She’s going to check in with us when Netto is fully toilet-trained.

In the mean time, here are some tips she offered based on her experience to date:

  • Buy a toilet training system! She chose Litter Kwitter since it seemed like the best one on the market. It is more expensive than others, but since you don’t need to break it to make the hole larger it allows you to go back to an earlier step if you realize your cat was not ready to move forward. It also seems sturdier than other brands.
  • Use a separate toilet for your cat if possible. She has a small apartment with only one bathroom and sometimes it’s annoying when you wake up in the morning and have to start cleaning because the cat made a mess during the night. (Poo and pee on the Litter Kwitter and cat litter all over the floor…)
  • Take your time and make sure your cat is comfortable with every step forward. She tried to get her cat to “get used to it” by sticking by the changes even though the cat didn’t like it and that was not a good approach. Instead the cat started peeing in the bathroom sink (a problem Ewa now has to solve) and had a few “accidents” on the bed. To make the changes easier on her cat Ewa decided to buy the two extra trays from Litter Kwitter that give you 5 trays in total instead of only 3 and now the cat accepts the changes without a problem since they’re more subtle.
  • Use a litter that your cat is comfortable with that is also flushable. She’s using one made of pine shavings and it works really well. No smell, her cat likes it and it doesn’t muck up the toilet when the cat digs it into the toilet.
  • Have patience! She started toilet training Netto in March (!) and she has gone through a long process of different techniques etc. Ewa’s friends and her husband think she’s crazy since she is still confident it will work, but now they’re doing really well. You just have to be attentive to your cat and what he needs rather than trying to force him to do something. That will never work with a cat!

Thanks Ewa for sharing and being so honest about the experience!

I do have to add a caveat if you live in the state of California like I do.  Toxoplasmosis parasites from cat waste are killing the local sea otters.  Apparently the waste eventually ends up in the ocean and the parasite is harmful to sea otters.  All litter bags in California carry a warning sticker saying not to flush cat waste into the toilet.  Be aware of whether your cat may be affected by this parasite.  They will not exhibit any symptoms.  It’s spread by eating raw flesh such as rodents so if your cat has ever been outdoors, then they are at risk.

I personally know Furball’s entire history and he’s been kept indoors his whole life and has never been allowed outside or has eaten raw meat.  I was confident enough to clean his litter box while I was pregnant so I’m honestly quite sure that his waste is toxoplasmosis-free.  This may not be true for your cat, so please take this into consideration if you are thinking about trying the toilet training route.

Here’s a YouTube video I found on the Litter Kwitter system:

A Chemist’s Perspective on Chemicals

In a recent post, I was checking out whether Wee Cleaner was really non-toxic and discovered that although I was under the impression that it was all natural, it did indeed contain a number of chemical ingredients.  Then I segued into looking up ingredients with the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database.

One of my readers wrote in to share some more insights about the chemical ingredients.  She works as a chemist in a lab, so it was great to gain her perspective.  There’s a radio station I listen to where the morning DJ’s always proclaim that they have the smartest listeners in the world.  I’m thinking I have some of the smartest blog readers!  Anyway, here’s what she had to say:

“It’s true that all chemical suppliers, and labs for that matter, are required to have MSDS’s on file for chemicals but while the idea is well meaning: to have anyone interested in safety be able to find information on a chemical, most MSDS’s now days are packed with legalese and meaningless warnings. In effort not to be sued, manufacturers have put every possible thing down for even the most harmless substances so that you really couldn’t tell apart something harmless from something that you need to watch out for even if you tried. If you would like an example read the MSDS on table salt (sodium chloride), or sea sand. You should apparently run screaming from the kitchen and the beach for fear of being exposed to such harmful substances. No one takes MSDS’s seriously, and they are pretty near useless, except for the lawyers.

About the issue of hydrogen peroxide, it’s actually a great and very safe cleaner! The reason why you have this contradictory information about it is because hydrogen peroxide is not very stable. When you buy Hydrogen peroxide from the supermarket it has a very short shelf life. It will spontaneously degrade into oxygen and water on standing, air and light just speed up the process. So while, yes, you should probably not drink hydrogen peroxide from the bottle, if you apply a little bit to your carpet, by the time it’s dry there won’t be any hydrogen peroxide there to get into contact with. Most of it probably reacts with (oxidizes) whatever stinky stuff your cat left behind to make less stinky stuff and the rest just turns into water and oxygen. Sounds great to me!

I think that’s why you should take these chemical safety scales with some skepticism. What does “safe” really mean?

Sodium laureth sulfate I’m not so sure about, I’ve seen it on my shampoo bottle so it’s probably not that bad, I’d be worried about my kitty eating some though, I would ask what percent composition it is before deciding to put it on my carpet. Maybe at this point I would just go out and buy a bottle of hydrogen peroxide to see if that works just as well as the cleaner.

Sorry for the rant, but there is always a lot of misleading information and witch hunts about how bad “chemicals” are. Even though everything is a chemical: water, air, or cyanide, weather or not it’s harmful just depends on how it acts around the environment and your body. Not how “natural” it is.”

Thanks for the insights Anastasia!

I didn’t know that there were MSDS sheets specific to each chemical and it was illuminating to learn that they list every possible risk to avoid litigation. I noticed the EWG Cosmetic Database also listed things such as tea tree oil in a way that made them sound hazardous.

I still do find that MSDS docs for cleaning products contain some interesting gems.  For example, Simple Green is labelled as “non-toxic”, but the MSDS lists butyl cellosolve, also known as 2-butoxyethanol, as one of the ingredients.  According to the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0070.html, symptoms of exposure include irritation eyes, skin, nose, throat; hemolysis, hematuria (blood in the urine); central nervous system depression, headache; vomiting” and target organs include: “Eyes, skin, respiratory system, central nervous system, hematopoietic system, blood, kidneys, liver, lymphoid system”.

I think I’ll pass on hemolysis (premature destruction of red blood cells) or the hematuria, even if the risk is low.  We bought some “Simple Green” thinking it was green, but now that bottle is sitting in the garage.


Green Little Cat is the only blog that's all about eco-friendly ideas for cats and cat lovers. This blog is a labor of love, created by Holly Tse, author of Make Your Own Cat Toys.
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